Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring chart types, part of Excel Essential Training (Office 365).
- [Instructor] Excel has many different chart types. You've heard of column charts, bar charts, line charts, and it's not always clear which chart type is going to work best for best for your data. But it's really easy to make a change. So when you create a chart, and I'm about to do this with this data right here, I'll do it quickly with that shortcut, ALT F1. There's the chart. That's a clustered column chart. Perhaps the most common chart type we see in excel. But there are many others, and let's consider some options. When a chart is created it's automatically selected on the Design tab.
Change Chart Type. There are some other kinds of column charts. Here's a stacked column chart. That's cleaner looking you might say. By reading the height of it we know the total. It's hard to read the individual colors, though, month to month. We've got some other choices out here. Sometimes it's just the visuals that might get your attention. But is it easy to read? Not quite so easy. But, at least we've got some options. And maybe, rather than just looking at column charts, we start exploring some others. Now we don't necessarily need to see all these. We know what we're trying to show here, why not, bar chart.
There we go. That looks pretty good. It's the same idea, it's just rotated 90 degrees. And you might just have a personal favorite. Sometimes it's completely subjective. One thing I do recommend though, when you create a chart, is to use this button here, called Switch Row Column. And the description doesn't quite give you any indication as to how it's really going to look. So click it anyway. Before you do it though, notice each cluster here of bars is about a furniture item and the colors differentiate the regions. Switch row column, and now the colors are about the furniture item, the cluster's about the region.
Go back and forth. Sometimes when you do this, you say well, both of those are pretty attractive. Well, you can have them both on the screen, if you want. And if you do want to do that, chart select it, you can duplicate it with control D. D for duplicate. Change one of them. We've got that, different clustering. And that works with column charts and line charts as well. Now, if you are dealing with data that covers a timeframe, like the data here, a line chart tends to work best. I'm going to create this time by going to the Insert tab in the ribbon.
And I know I want a line chart, so I can go right here. Insert line. There it is. Fourth option tends to work best if you want to get markers. And there it is. And this indicates a trend month by month. When you see a line chart, nearly always, across the bottom you'll see some timeframe. If you switch row column here, that's not so good at all. Usually with line charts, there's a clear favorite as you look at these. Now the examples we've seen so far, have not been dealing with a lot of data and that's often the case. But farther down, on the same worksheet, is about a two and half year list of sales here.
ALT F1, column chart, that's not bad. We can make a case for that. But on the other hand, change chart type, make this be a line chart. I think this is going to look better. Do be alert to this idea, though. With line charts, if you make them wider, and maybe not as tall, it tends to flatten out the data. And if you're trying to hide an increasing trend, that might be one way to do it. Now without changing the source data whatsoever, I'm going to make this be a lot taller, and we get this effect.
So, be alert to that idea. You can change the meaning of a chart, just by changing its size, particularly with a line chart. Also, when you're changing chart type, and you do have time, and you've got different kinds of data at different times, consider what an area chart might look like. Not a good choice here. Some of these other choices. What's a tree map chart, would that work here? Well it might. You might explore that a little bit. Sunbursts. So lots of different chart types. And the more you work with charts, the more will change the chart type. There's so many different options, and some data just looks better with one kind of a chart versus another kind.
It's a feature that you can easily manipulate and work with as you work with charts.
- Working with the Excel interface
- Entering data
- Creating formulas and functions
- Formatting your data
- Adjusting rows and columns
- Finding and replacing data
- Inserting and deleting sheets
- Sorting and filtering data
- Creating charts and PivotTables
- Printing and sharing worksheets
- Protecting worksheets and workbooks
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 1/7/2019. What changed?
A: A new video was added that covers working with Excel Ideas.